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 Chapter 6

Original Sin


THE doctrine of original sin has influenced the teachings of Roman Catholicism more than any other concept. In introducing this false doctrine into the Christian church, Augustine, the bishop of Hippo, declared that a baby, from the moment of conception, is guilty of the original sin of Adam. This guilt at conception merits eternal torment in hell for that child. Augustine, borrowing from pagan doctrine, asserted that "baptism" alone purified an infant from original sin; thus God was represented as an unjust monster who torments those to whom He has given life, if their parents carelessly omit to have them sprinkled. This damnable doctrine specifically challenges the plain words of Scripture.

The soul that sinneth, it shall die. The son shall not bear the iniquity of the father, neither shall the father bear the iniquity of the son: the righteousness of the righteous shall be upon him, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon him. (Ezekiel 18:20)

No one is punished for the sins of his father; yet, despite the contrary testimony of Scripture, some popes made even more absurd pronouncements.

Innocent I (401–417) wrote to the Council of Milevis and Galasius I (492–496) wrote to the bishops of Picenum that babies were obliged to receive communion. If they died baptized but uncommunicated, they would go straight to hell. (Peter de Rosa, Vicars of Christ, p. 289)

The concept that babies who had died before receiving communion were in hell was finally rejected by the Council of Trent in the sixteenth century; however, the concept of eternal torment for babies is still held.

The doctrine of original sin has popularized the false form of baptism that sprinkles infants with water. Sprinkling eventually led the vast majority of Christians to forsake the biblical doctrine of adult (believer) baptism which is performed by full immersion. Pope Gregory believed Augustine’s error.

Gregory the Great said that unbaptized babies go straight to hell, and suffer there for eternity. (de Rosa, p. 289)

Catholics faced heavy strains upon the marriage relationship, as ordained of God, when they accepted the view (prevalent in some pagan societies) that sexual relation in marriage is sinful. Prelates were always ready to defend it even when attempts were made to demonstrate the inconsistency of the doctrine of original sin.

Gregory [the Great] was not blind to the problem this [doctrine of original sin] raised. For example, parents were cleansed from original sin in baptism. How could they hand down original sin to their babies? He answers: Though holy themselves, they handed down corrupt nature through sex, desire galvanized by lust. Babies are born as the damned fruit of the lust of their redeemed parents. From the first, they are the offspring of Gehenna, or Hell; they are just children of wrath because they are sinners. If they die unbaptized, they are condemned to everlasting torment for the guilt of their birth alone. Existence is itself a state of sin; to be born is to qualify for eternal punishment. (de Rosa, p. 452)

Another inconsistency concerned the incarnation of Christ. He certainly did not possess a nature contaminated by original sin. Since He was conceived of the Holy Spirit, it was asserted that He was free of original sin because no sex was involved. But, in order to distance Jesus further from original sin, the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception of Mary was fabricated. Mary was also stated to be born of a virgin and conceived of the Holy Spirit.

Until the twelfth century, Christians took it for granted that Mary was conceived in original sin. Pope Gregory the Great emphatically said that "Christ alone was conceived without sin." Again and again, he said all human beings are sinful, even the holiest, with the sole exception of Christ. His reasoning and that of all the Fathers leaves no doubt in the matter. The sex act always involved sin. Mary was conceived normally, therefore in sin; Jesus was conceived virginally, therefore without original sin. . . . The cult of the virgin developed apace in the Middle Ages. Catholics tended to lose sight of the humanness of Christ [because of the false view that His human nature differed from ours]; as a result, He appeared remote, not so much the Mediator between God and men as God Himself. This created the need for a mediator with the Mediator, someone holy and powerful. The rise of Mariology coincided with the decline of Christology. (de Rosa, pp. 332, 333)

Unfortunately, the doctrine that Christ’s human nature differed from ours led to loss of faith in His mediatorial work in behalf of mankind.

For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus. (1 Timothy 2:5)

The reason that Christ’s mediatorial role has been usurped by priests and saints is that the doctrine of original sin has removed Christ as our High Priest and replaced Him with human priests. Jesus’ qualification as our High Priest depends upon His possession of our nature.

For verily he took not on him the nature of angels; but he took on him the seed of Abraham. Wherefore in all things it behoved him to be made like unto his brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people. For in that he himself hath suffered being tempted, he is able to succour them that are tempted. (Hebrews 2:16–18)

Christ was made like His brethren in all things. By postulating the notion that Christ was made different from mankind, the Roman Catholic Church deprived Christ of His right to be our High Priest. No man is born with original sin, but all are born with sin-weakened natures. Christ was also born with a sin-weakened nature, as Scripture testifies.

Concerning his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, which was made of the seed of David according to the flesh. (Romans 1:3)

For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh. (Romans 8:3)

Christ could not have been tempted as we are if He possessed a human nature different from ours. He assures us that He indeed understands our human feelings and infirmities because, as a man, He was tempted as we are; yet He did not sin.

For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feelings of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. (Hebrews 4:15)

The doctrine of original sin also led to the declaration that those who had never heard the gospel would all perish in eternal hell.

It is not as if pontiffs and Fathers said that they did not know how babies were saved; they categorically said it was impossible. They did not plead ignorance of the fate of the mass of mankind who had never heard of Christ; instead, they affirmed, without qualification, that they all went to hell. There was no salvation outside the church (by the church, they meant the Catholic Church wherein entry was gained only by baptism of water). These views were repeated century after century without one dissenting voice. It was Catholic teaching, taught always, everywhere by everyone. We noticed that when Francis Xavier went to the Indies he was certain that unbaptized pagans, however virtuous, could not get to heaven. (de Rosa, p. 460)

Notice what the Scriptures quote Jesus as saying concerning this issue:

If ye were blind, ye should have no sin. (John 9:41)

When Paul spoke on Mars Hill, in Athens, Greece, he referred to the former ignorance of the Greeks in matters that pertained to the gospel.

And the times of this ignorance God winked at. (Acts 17:30)

Paul also revealed God’s attitude toward all people and their relationship to His law, in his epistle to the believers in Rome.

For there is no respect of persons with God. For as many as have sinned without law shall also perish without law: and as many as have sinned in the law shall be judged by the law; (for not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified. For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves: which shew the work of the law written in their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing one another;) in the day when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ according to my gospel. (Romans 2:11–16)

Those who are ignorant of the gospel message are judged according to their response to the minimal light they possess. Some will obtain eternal life. Jesus died for the salvation of the whole world. He does not want anyone to perish even though some souls will choose to disobey the light that they have received and will perish.

The Lord . . . is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. (2 Peter 3:9)

The doctrine of original sin, a doctrine not found anywhere in Scripture, has been the mother of the vilest doctrines ever to enter the Christian church. These vile and unscriptural doctrines are, the eternal torment of unbaptized babies; the concept of limbo (created in order to soften this first doctrine of eternal torment of unbaptized babies); the sinfulness of the sexual relationship in marriage; the Immaculate Conception of Mary; the denial of the true human nature of Jesus; the acceptance of confession to priests; the denial of Christ’s mediatorial and High Priestly ministry; the ritual of infant baptism; and the notion that those who have never heard the Christian message are, by that fact alone, excluded from eternal life.

Perhaps W.E.H. Lecky most elegantly sums up the foundation of the doctrine of original sin in his book, History of European Morals, as quoted by Peter de Rosa, in his comments upon the "fate" of unbaptized babies (assumed to have died while still in possession of original sin).

That a little child who lives but a few minutes after birth and dies before it has been sprinkled with the sacred water is, in such a sense, responsible for its ancestor having six thousand years before eaten a forbidden fruit; that it may, with perfect justice, be resuscitated and cast into the abyss of eternal fire in expiation of this ancestral crime; that an all-righteous and merciful Creator, in the full exercise of these attributes, deliberately calls into existence sentient beings whom he had, from eternity, irrevocably destined to endure unspeakable, unmitigated torture are propositions which are at once so extravagantly absurd and so ineffably atrocious that their adoption might well lead men to doubt the universality of moral perception. Such teaching is, in fact, simply demonism, and demonism in its most extreme form. (Quoted in Peter de Rosa, Vicars of Christ, p. 461)


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